Today, nearly 66 million qualified and registered voters in the country’s national elections for leaders during the next three to six years will go to their respective precincts and shade the circle corresponding to the name of their chosen candidates.
The voting comes two days after the presidential candidates and their respective political parties ended their 90-day campaign which saw lengthy caravans and big rallies in urban areas, capped by the separate miting de avances in Mindanao, Visayas, and Metro Manila.
Today’s exercise is the foundation of the electoral process in a democracy. If people are not allowed to vote freely, then the whole process of elections becomes absurd and superfluous. Like Andrew Heywood said in Politics, suffrage is “The right to vote, or the exercising of that right.”
Universal suffrage –also called universal franchise, general suffrage, and common suffrage of the common man — gives the right to vote to all adult citizens, regardless of wealth, income, gender, social status, race, ethnicity, political stance, or any other restriction, subject only to relatively minor exceptions.
Suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law, who are at least 18 years of age, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year, and in the place wherein they propose to vote, for at least six months immediately preceding the election.
It is gladdening that on the eve of today’s elections, Malacanang enjoined nearly 66 million Filipino voters to select leaders who will prioritize the welfare of this multi-ethnic nation of 110 million people.
Acting presidential spokesperson and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said: “Tomorrow, May 9, 2022, the Filipino people will exercise their right to vote. The Palace encourages all registered voters to use this occasion to choose the next set of leaders, who have the interest of the nation and the welfare of the citizens in their minds.”
Andanar said the May polls were “proof” of the country’s strong democracy and stability.
Like Andanar we urge the voting public to adhere to minimum public health standards during the entire voting process, which starts at 6 am and ends at 7 pm – and then the counting begins. Let’s pray and be vigilant that there would be no widespread brownout as had happened in the 2016 exercise.
We note that President Rodrigo Duterte, in a taped interview with Apollo Quiboloy aired over Sonshine Media Network International on Friday, urged voters to be discerning in choosing the next president and look into the biodata of all 10 candidates.
“Please review the biodata of the candidates, including the presidency,” he added.
Five months earlier, Duterte, during his remarks at the United States’ Summit for Democracy convened by US President Joseph Biden Jr. in December 2021, described democracy in the Philippines as “vibrant.”
He said he would spend the remaining months of his term ensuring that no one was left behind as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I step down in June 2022. The work of our imperfect democracy will certainly continue. My administration will ensure an honest, peaceful, credible, and free elections in May,” he said.
He said it would be his “highest honor” to turn over the reins of power to his successor knowing that he did his best to serve the country and people.
More than 65.7 million Filipinos will be eligible to cast their ballots in the May polls, aside from the 1.697 million Filipinos overseas.
Majority of voters or 53,795,522 voters are aged 18 to 57. In total, there are 37,015,901 voters aged 18-41 years old while there are 11,925,708 voters who are aged 58-60 and above.
The Commission on Elections has set voting hours from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., which can be extended depending on the number of voters.
Voters must follow standard health and safety protocols, such as the mandatory wearing of face masks, the voluntary wearing of face shields in areas under Alert Level 3 or lower, frequent washing or sanitizing of hands, and physical distancing.
Meanwhile, the Marketing and Opinion Research Society of the Philippines (MORES) said Sunday it was supporting research firms Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations (SWS), against doubts on the integrity and accuracy of their pre-election surveys done during the 90-day campaign period.
In a statement released to the media, MORES said the two firms, being their corporate members, had “resolved to uphold professional standards in delivering the most precise and representative feedback and insights, as evidenced by their reputation and track record.”
“MORES supports companies who deliver results with consistency and reliability. Companies such as SWS and Pulse Asia have shown their commitment to using scientific methods to provide public opinion representative of ANY population of interest,” it said.
“Surveys nowadays cannot only be good. It has to be excellent,” the society added.
Former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. had consistently enjoyed the top spot in the Pulse Asia research firm’s pre-election surveys, with the runner-up behind by some 30 percentage points.
In the final survey, Marcos and his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, led their respective races for president and vice president.
Different groups, including a presidential candidate, have questioned Pulse Asia’s pre-election surveys.
Presidential bet Sen. Panfilo Lacson had noted his zero scores in Visayas and Mindanao in the final pre-election survey conducted last April.
“Aside from the constant 2 percent survey results that they’ve been giving me for the past few months, now it is zero scores in both Visayas and Mindanao,” Lacson said in a May 3 statement.
National Statistical Coordination Board Secretary-General Dr. Romulo Virola also released his analyses on the February Pulse Asia survey, saying it had “underrepresented” millennial and Generation Z voters and “over-represented” voters from older generations, such as baby boomers.
Pulse Asia, in a separate statement, denied accusations of being paid and its work being compromised due to the alleged infiltration of partisan groups.
“Our organization will never submit to any form of material inducement or even intimidation that will make us deviate from or distort accepted social science principles and practice. We have also taken all the necessary safeguards to secure the integrity of our fieldwork against any and all forms of infiltration,” Pulse Asia president Ronald Holmes said.
Pre-election surveys can be considered “snapshots of the moment” and reflect the people’s sentiments at the time these were conducted, analysts have explained.
Earlier, PUBLiCUS Asia chief data scientist Dr. David Yap Jr. said, amid accusations that surveys are “polluted,” it was up to the people to interpret their results.
“I would like to disagree with the notion that statisticians are soothsayers or fortune-tellers. When you consider statistical predictions, even the most advanced method of predictions is subject to criticism. For the very simple reason that those predictions are based on specific sets of assumptions, the moment that these assumptions are tweaked, those predictions will no longer hold,” he said. (ai/mtvn)